On Motherhood, On Children

I’ll be the first to admit it.  I fight daily with the little devil on my shoulder.  That being tells me lies.

I feel it so vividly – the tensions of being a stay at home mom, a lack of validation in the culture at large for motherhood or stay at home parents, and the voice inside me telling me almost every day “It’s not enough! Do more, be significant, something special.”  A lot of my poetry recently has come out of that place.

God has reminded me, for some reason, of the truth that we never know whose mother we are — in that we don’t know who our children will become. If we knew that our sons or daughters, nieces or nephews, would grow up to be the next Barack Obama, or Madeleine L’Engle, Joan Chittister, or Scot McKnight, or Michelangelo, whomever, would we look at parenting, at mothering, differently?

They all had mothers.

Fathers.  Aunties and Uncles.

Your role in the life of a child is a role that only you can fulfill even though most days you likely consider it insignificant.

This post was inspired in some part by reading this.

He did not wait …

He did not wait . . .

till hearts were pure.  In joy he came

to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.

To a world like ours, of anguished shame

he came, and his Light would not go out.

— from “First coming” by Madeleine L’Engle

Kids have been asking for weeks “When’s Christmas? How many days!?”  And yesterday, when Jacob and I went to do a little last minute shopping he asked again.  “What will we do tomorrow?”  I told him the plan, including going to church.  “Don’t we go to church on Sunday?” he asked me.

It is really difficult to help children understand what Christmas is really about, when the holiday seems to be about gifts, food and activity.  We spend all our time baking and shopping but still, I hope at some point it will sink in that the reason we celebrate at all is that Christ was born! 

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins.” (Gospel of Luke)  

That is the message I tell my son, the word spoken to John the Baptist and this is our calling as well — don’t you agree? 

“We are enslaved, by selfishness and addiction and all the wreckage that sin can wreak on the world, but are we willing to risk being freed?  Do we dare enter that dangerous new country, leaving sure comforts behind?  Perhaps it is time to surrender, open our hearts, and accept the wonder of Christmas by saying, with Karl Rahner, “We have no choice.  God is with us.”  (Kathleen Norris, God With Us.)

It took me a long time, years, to pull back enough from Christmas as a season so that I could truely understand and experience Advent.  I pray for us all that this will be true as we experience Christmas Eve today.